Must Start: The Top 15
1. Shaun Alexander v. NYG—Ummm,
Shaun? Season’s started, bud. Any chance you could join
2. Steven Jackson @ ARI—The
other two-thirds of fantasy’s holy trinity, LJ & LT,
are watching from home in Week 3. That means Jackson moves into
the responsibility-laden role of rock-toter #2. Can he handle
it? Is Mike Martz overrated? Only he and the next guy have managed
triple digits in both of their first two games. Not to mention,
the Cards have yielded a league-worst four rushing touchdowns
thus far. Time for another installment of the Shot Caller guarantee:
he scores this Sunday.
3. Warrick Dunn @ NO—So
does he, I think, though he’ll hafta wait ‘til Monday
to do it. Dunn has racked up a league-leading 266 yards in the
early going and is easily the most surprising stud at this juncture.
If Michael continues to improvise and the Falcons continue to
shut down opposing offenses, the sky’s the limit for the
4. Rudi Johnson @ PIT—Remember
when Corey Dillon used to rule the roost in the Queen City? Remember
why he left? You’re looking at him, folks. There aren’t
too many mutually beneficial trades in the NFL (hell, there aren’t
many trades PERIOD in the NFL) but that was definitely one of
them. New England got the disgruntled Dillon and Rudi got the
Bengals backfield all to hisself. All he’s done since is
rush for over 3000 yards and 27 touchdowns. Dillon? We’ll
get to him.
5. Tiki Barber @ SEA—Tiki’s
on pace for another 2000 yard season, his third consecutive if
he turns the trick. Not too shabby for a guy who’s supposedly
crested the hill in this, his tenth season. Get him in there against
a Seahawks bunch he toasted for 178 yards last November.
6. Ronnie Brown v. TEN—It’s
hard to call Brown a disappointment thus far, though he’s
only rushed for 100 yards in two games. Luckily, he’s an
above-average receiving option and is definitely a load near the
goal line. Of course, you hafta GET near the goal line to score
touchdowns. Expect at least one touch and a triple-digit day as
he squares off against Tennessee’s mushy front seven (166
7. Jamal Lewis @ CLE—A
lot has happened since Lewis rumbled for a record-setting 295
bills against Cleveland in 2003 but, believe it or not, this is
only his sixth full season in the NFL (not including 2001 when
he didn’t play). In other words, it’s too early to
discount him as a consistent top 10 meal ticket. Give him the
nod against a Cleveland D that seems to be perennially standing
on the verge.
8. Frank Gore v. PHI—Gore
skipped the verge and jumped right into “gettin’ it
on” this season. Though he likely wasn’t a top 10
RB back on draft day, he’s quickly becoming a top 10 mainstay.
He’s averaging over 150 total yards per contest and has
made everyone forget about former Niner Kevan Barlow. OK, they
actually forgot about Barlow while he was still IN San Fran, but
9. Edgerrin James v. STL—Nobody
remembers the guys Edge replaced in the desert and if they do,
a Jedi mindsweep might be the only cure. Unfortunately, James’
first two games as a Cardinal have been pretty forgettable, too,
save for a touchdown in Week 1. If I owned him, I’d be worried
about that O-line. Then again, I’d be buoyed by the thought
of St. Louie’s 26th-ranked run D coming to town. Start him.
10. Brian Westbrook @ SF—Tell
me if you’ve heard this before: Westbrook is listed as questionable
on the Week 3 injury report. Ironically, Andy Reid talked about
cutting back the kid’s workload after a 21-touch effort
in Week 1. His Week 2 touch total? 26. That’s playing with
fire in my book, something Coach Reid, despite his obvious gridiron
acumen, seems to have developed a taste for (see Owens, Terrell).
11. Fred Taylor @ IND—You’re
always playing with fire when you draft Fragile Fred but his start
has to leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy so far, no? He’s
racked up 236 total yards in two huge victories and looks like
every bit the player who once topped 1500 yards. In other words,
his trade value has never been higher (hint, hint).
12. Willis McGahee v. NYJ—TBRBITNFL
was at it again last week, tantalizing us with a 91-yard effort
but failing to reach paydirt for the second consecutive week.
I’ve no doubt he’s talented but there’s a reason
I avoided him in all my drafts. The surrounding talent simply
isn’t good enough. Feel free to use him this week against
New York’s marshmallow-soft front seven but don’t
consider him an auto-start yet.
13. Chester Taylor v. CHI—Him?
Getting there. I was leery of Chet after a sub-par preseason but
the additions across the offensive front and a newly discovered
commitment to the run by Coach Childress have spelled surprise
success for the former Rocket during the regular season. He gets
a true test this Sunday against Chicago’s malevolent front
seven. Go ahead and push your luck. There aren’t a ton of
great options this week, anyway.
14. Reggie Bush v. ATL—The
Pack threw the kitchen sink at Bush in Week 2 and, for the most
part, it paid off. Well, aside from the fact that Deuce scored
twice and Brees threw for 353 yards and Marques Coltston scored
and…. You get the picture. Hard to put him in the top 10
when he’s garnering that kind of attention but he’s
still a great option.
15. Corey Dillon v. DEN—Dillon
would be a fantastic option if he weren’t sharing the backfield
with Laurence Maroney. Nonetheless, he’s still putting up
very solid #2 RB numbers (75+ per and a score). Don’t expect
anything to change unless one of the two gets hurt. I think Belichick
is just arrogant enough to think he can win (yet) another title
with a backfield-by-committee approach.
Grab A Helmet:
Laurence Maroney v. DEN—In
fact, there’s really no reason to favor either of these
guys over the other. Dillon’s run for 153 yards. Maroney’s
run for 151. Dillon’s scored a touchdown. Maroney’s
scored a touchdown. Only thing favoring the vet at this point
is his two catches for 22 yards. If you’re in a keeper league,
however, the choice is simple.
Carnell Williams v. CAR—Ever
sunk your teeth into a chocolate chip cookie only to find out
some health nut decided to substitute raisins for chocolate chips?
That’s how I feel about the Caddy right now. Who ever heard
of a healthy cookie, anyway? If I wanted to be healthy, I’d
grab some celery sticks and a glass of carrot juice…and
stop spending ten consecutive hours on the sofa every Sunday.
No, honey…not an option. He’s still worth a look against
Carolina’s league-worst run defense.
Willie Parker v. CIN—Looks
like I dealt Parker just in the nick of time, huh? Don’t
be too discouraged. Jacksonville’s D is nails and the Monday
night limelight seems to bring out the best in up-and-coming teams,
especially when they’re squaring off against the big, bad
Super Bowl champs. Do be concerned about the recent signing of
Najeh Davenport, however. Could take away goal line looks.
Clinton Portis @ HOU—He
obviously belongs in the top 5 (especially this week) if he’s
truly been given a clean bill of health. Nevertheless, we’re
talking about a guy who’s carried the ball all of ten times
this year. Moreover, it’s not like a 25-carry ground-pounder
like Portis can consistently avoid blows to the shoulder area.
Proceed with caution. Lots of it.
Grab A Gatorade:
Kevin Jones v. GB—Seattle
and Chicago is a tough way to kick off the season for any back,
let alone one who historically stumbles out of the gate. Don’t
be tempted by a relatively soft schedule in the coming weeks,
though. He’s only carried the ball 26 times thus far and
hasn’t topped the century mark since December 26th, 2004.
In fact, he’s only done it four times in his entire career.
Ahman Green @ DET—Green
used to be a lead pipe lock for triple digits but now plays for
an emasculated Pack unit that lacks the talent up front to open
consistent holes. This week, he draws a vastly underrated Lions
front that has yielded only three yards per carry to date. It’ll
be rough sledding for Batman come Sunday, I fear.
Chris Brown @ MIA—Funny
how the Titans used Billy Volek’s “trade me”
threats against him when it was this guy who publicly professed
a desire to be dealt at the start of training camp. Trust me when
I say all is not well in the Music City. Jeff Fisher deserves
better and so do you. Go with someone else until the smoke clears
sometime in 2007…or 2008.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends